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John Cranley’s Cincinnati Streetcar Circus

The news out of Cincinnati continues to grow more absurd as recently elected Mayor John Cranley moves to kill a streetcar project that's already under construction.

Photo: WXVU

The city of Cincinnati will pay almost $3 million a month to "pause" construction of its partially completed streetcar, following a vote by the City Council last night. Work on the project will be stalled awaiting an independent financial report detailing the costs to the city of completely abandoning the project.

Randy Simes at Urban Cincy has more on all the latest developments:

On Monday, the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation had offered up private money to fund the independent financial review of the project, which was then matched by an anonymous contribution on Wednesday that would also cover the costs of construction to continue while that study was conducted. Both offers were turned down by Mayor Cranley and the five members of City Council who ultimately voted to pause the project indefinitely.

Acting City Manager Scott Stiles also informed City Council that such an action to “pause” the project would cost the City between $2.6 million to $3.6 million per month due to contractual obligations -- a number that exceeds the total amount it costs to merely continue construction activities.

What actually happens next is anyone’s guess. A lawsuit has been threatened by a Cincinnati resident and attorney alleging Councilman Christopher Smitherman (I), who was one of the five voting against the streetcar today, has a conflict of interest and therefore has committed wrongdoing by voting or engaging in official discussion on the matter.

Who knows what will happen next, but what happened this week defies logic. In a matter of just three days, the new mayor and council have undone all the work that has taken place over the past six years to get the streetcar project to this point. Some may call that rushed, chaotic and reckless, and we would be inclined to agree with those people.

One reason Cranley might not get his way: Simes notes that the city's business and media establishment are starting to mobilize for the completion of the project.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland reports that communities across the state of Oregon are snapping up of money for bike and pedestrian planning. The Oregonian's Hard Drive blog talks to Congressman Ear Blumenauer about his proposal for a gas tax increase. And Vibrant Bay Area explains the phenomenon of the "virtual school bus."

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